News & Updates

Listening to Families: Understanding Experiences from Participation in Medicaid Childhood Obesity Prevention and Treatment Initiatives

February 26, 2018

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Study: Medicaid Integrated Care Takes Childhood Obesity Prevention to the Next Level
Medicaid families survey shows health plan collaboration with community is key, but barriers remain

Washington, DC - February 26, 2018 – Interviews with families who participated in select Medicaid managed care childhood obesity initiatives revealed overall satisfaction with these programs that coordinate care with community organizations, health care providers, local health departments, and schools. The findings show that the integrated care provided by Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) amplifies current efforts of clinicians and other stakeholders in childhood obesity prevention.


The Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI) in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Medicaid Health Plans of America (MHPA) and the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ), along with the National Advisory Committee Project Chair Dr. Sandy Hassink, launched the Childhood Obesity Prevention and Treatment Program (CHOPT) for Medicaid project in 2016 to examine groundbreaking childhood obesity prevention initiatives by Medicaid MCOs. Under the Early Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) program, Medicaid MCOs have taken unique multi-pronged approaches to address social determinants of health to prevent and treat obesity. For example, Medicaid-enrolled kids get well-child exams and other medically necessary services, including nutritional assessments and counseling.


Study investigators interviewed families that participated in these programs to capture their experiences and preferences. Results show that families found the initiatives to be extremely helpful, especially the way they provided knowledge and skills on childhood obesity prevention in a culturally appropriate manner. The findings highlight the important role Medicaid MCOs play in preventing childhood obesity -- providing case management, access to coordinated health services and treatments, and using clinician referral networks.


However, the interviews also exposed barriers to access and participation in MCO-sponsored childhood obesity prevention programs. Families identified various social determinants of health such as lack of reliable access to transportation and availability of childcare as reasons why families could not fully participate in these initiatives.


“The interview responses show that Medicaid MCOs are heading in the right direction on this issue,” said Jennifer E. Moore, Ph.D., the executive director of the Institute for Medicaid Innovation and a registered nurse. “However, they also show that much work still needs to be done,” Moore continued. “The call to action here is to advance policy and advocacy priorities in childhood obesity prevention, like continuing to support and expand existing programs that address social determinants of health to ensure the overall health and well-being of children and families.”


About Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI)
The Institute for Medicaid Innovation focuses on providing innovative solutions that address important clinical, research and policy issues in Medicaid through multi-stakeholder engagement, research, data analysis, education, quality improvement initiatives and dissemination and implementation activities.  For more information, visit

About Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)
For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has worked to improve health and health care. We are working with others to build a national Culture of Health enabling everyone in America to live longer, healthier lives. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About Medicaid Health Plans of America (MHPA)
Medicaid Health Plans of America (MHPA) is the leading national trade association solely focused on representing the universe of Medicaid health plans. MHPA works on behalf of 136 commercial and non-profit plans that serve over 30 million lives in 39 states and Washington, DC. MHPA provides advocacy and research that support policy solutions to enhance the delivery of quality care to disadvantaged Americans. MHPA also holds an annual conference where industry leaders address key issues, discuss solutions, and share best practices. For more information, visit or

About American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

The mission of the American Academy of Pediatrics is to attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults. To accomplish this, AAP shall support the professional needs of its members. For more information, visit


National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ)

The National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ) is a mission-driven nonprofit dedicated to driving dramatic and sustainable improvements in the complex issues facing children’s health. We provide deep expertise in developing the pathways and partnerships for catalyzing change to achieve better outcomes for children and families. Learn more at



Joe Reblando, 202-857-5722